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Friday, November 13, 2009

This is not what I signed up for.

Back in 2006 when my first book was published, you could have asked me to do any sort of appearance and I would have said yes. I drove several hours each time to speak with potential authors at the Wetumpka library, to coach teen authors at the Prattville library, and to make a presentation and speak on a panel at the Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery. I really appreciated the invitations, and all these appearances were great fun, but I swear I would have said yes if I’d been invited to emcee a pumpkin chunking. As my (extremely extroverted salesman) husband kept telling me, "Your book may not sell well, and you may never get this chance again. You'd better enjoy being a published author while it lasts."

Lately I’ve started saying no.

There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that I just don’t have time. I’m in a twilight zone (or purgatory, depending on your perspective) where I have requests to write more books, but I haven’t quit my “real” job. My normal life chugs along as usual, including work deadlines in addition to book deadlines. And every time I need to find child care so I can speak to a group after school hours, it takes a village.

The other reason is that I hate making public appearances! I have a good time while I’m there, but the fear and anticipation leading up to the event nearly kill me. I know a lot of authors love to meet readers and make speeches. From the way our “Events” sidebar looks occasionally, I’d guess Stephanie is one of these. My own writers’ group just hosted Anne Stuart, who strolled up to the podium in a quilted kimono and sneakers, gave a hilarious speech until she discovered she’d lost the last few pages, and ad-libbed the rest without a single shudder. I’ve even met some folks, children’s authors especially, who seem to make a living from their school appearances rather than their books themselves. I do not understand these people. I want to shake them and scream “YOU ARE AN AUTHOR! AREN’T YOU INTROVERTED? ISN’T THAT WHY YOU SIT AT HOME BY YOURSELF AND WRITE BOOKS? HAVE YOU GONE MAD???”

Having said that, I have a couple of appearances coming up in the Birmingham area. My writers’ group, Southern Magic, has arranged book signings for several of the members. Christy Reece, Debra Webb, Peggy Webb and I will sign our books on Saturday, December 5 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fultondale Books A Million, and from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Brookwood Village Books A Million.

There is strength in numbers, you know. If you’re sitting with a group of authors in the bookstore rather than by yourself, you don’t feel quite so conspicuous when a potential buyer approaches, and you think she might want a book signed, but instead she asks you for directions to the bathroom. Please come out on Saturday to have some books signed for stocking stuffers, and tell me how convincing my extroverted act is! I won’t be doing it again for a while. (And please don't ask me out loud where the bathroom is--just make a flushing motion and I will point you to it.)


Sara said...

If only you were coming to Michigan! I'd be sure to come! Hope all goes well and there is a good turnout!

Jennifer Echols said...

Aw, Sara, that's kind of you. :) I'm sure it will be fine. I will eat chocolate and hide behind Christy.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

LOL, Jenn, my list of events can be deceiving. They make me nervous as hell too and I don't really enjoy them. I mean I do when I am there and I get to meet readers and readers actually show up. But I am so anxious beforehand because I am totally introverted as well.

But I guess I'm in the hasn't learned how to say no category. Also I'd like to be one of those authors that somehow earns a living (or supplements one) with visits, so I'm trying. I can't bartend forever.

Like you, I much much MUCH prefer multiple author events. I'm looking forward to my event next Friday because it's with four other authors. It will be fun. But the Friday after that... anxiety fest. Will people even show up???

I hope your event goes well. I'd love to be able to come out and meet you :)